DP10937 Economic Uncertainty and Structural Reforms

Author(s): Alessandra Bonfiglioli, Gino Gancia
Publication Date: November 2015
Keyword(s): reforms, uncertainty
JEL(s): E02, E60, L51
Programme Areas: International Macroeconomics and Finance, Macroeconomics and Growth
Link to this Page: cepr.org/active/publications/discussion_papers/dp.php?dpno=10937

Does economic uncertainty promote the implementation of structural reforms? We answer this question using one of the most exhaustive cross-country panel data set on reforms in six major areas and measuring economic uncertainty with stock market volatility. To address endogeneity concerns, we propose various identification strategies, instrumenting uncertainty with world shocks to volatility and with natural disasters, terrorist attacks, political coups and revolutions. Across all specifications, we find that uncertainty has a positive and significant effect on the adoption of reforms. This result is robust to the inclusion of a large number of controls, including political variables, economic variables, crisis indicators, and a host of country, reform and time fixed effects. These findings are broadly consistent with recent models suggesting that uncertainty promotes reforms by mitigating agency problems between policy makers and voters.